Author : Rohit Bansal

Originally Published 2014-01-24 06:09:05 Published on Jan 24, 2014
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal should take a leaf from the Republic Day chief guest, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, and profer the much-awaited #AAPnomics of job creation, a strategy on wealth distribution, and, a vision on efficiency. His genius will lie in these making sense to the poorest and the weakest - without forgetting global investors and our diaspora.
CM, work for AAPnomics
" Braving lathi charge, clearing files, and coming in the way of the Republic Day Parade! Surely, economic sentiment may be the last thing on Arvind Kejriwal's mind.

But the ultra-combative chief minister has ambitions beyond the national capital territory (NCT) - and India's imperative of 8 per cent annual growth is his too. So, I hope he understands that India Inc. doesn't want him to enjoy the self-description of an "anarchist" for long. Mass mobilizations - and violence that some of us fear will come as part of the package, if there's an Indian Spring - have given Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) loads of media attention.

But "sentiment" today is barely "investment grade." With an iota more of pain, it can turn to "junk" even among the 30-something per cent who voted India's most succesful political start up in recent times. To avoid that Kejriwal should reconsider his barbs at media owners for orchestrating their reporters. Today's television-viewing citizenry aren'tt that gullible. In fact, it's the media that reflects its viewers. And viewers see dharnas and the CM sleeping in front of Rail Bhawan as pure entertainment, their curiousity not to be confused as political endorsement.

We have a history of getting fed up when the time to give sacrifices comes to our doorstep. However noble the cause, our DNA isn't one of sustained strugglers with the establishment. That's for Palestinians and Afghans, not us! Gandhi understood this. So, unlike the revolutionary terrorists who fought for the same cause, his own call for 'struggle' had the inviolable underpinning of 'ahimsa.'

Also, Gandhi's calls for 'struggle' were punctutated by long periods of 'truce.' But in Kejriwal's book, mass mobilization and tension are threatening to be a daily affair. I doubt if AAP's version of "Swaraj," a concept that gen-next barely understands, can retain 100-per-cent ahimsa. To prove me wrong, seniors like Yogendra Yadav and Manish Sisodia will have to reign in an increasingly anguished cadre and even Kejriwal himself of the moral and strategic imperative of non violence.

As of date, here they are, pitted against every institutional arrangement that India has managed to create in the last 67 years! That when they aren't even fighting the British, but a Constitutional machinery! Basic question - Does everything, including the Republic Day Parade, deserved to be undermined in toto?

A more sober response would be for Kejriwal to share his narrative beyond free water and electricity bills. I refer to his idea of "Swaraj," where the central point seems to be that power must shift from New Delhi and the state capitals to village councils and town communities, so that people can be directly empowered to take decisions about their own lives.

Does such "Swaraj" exist anywhere? 'It does,' the folks at AAP point out, flagging Hewari Bazar, a village in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. Readers wondering what Swaraj might look like can watch It's a 20-minute video directed by Sisodia personally. If you prefer reading, Hewari Bazar has a website: Here, in 20 years of self rule, manifold increase in per-capita prosperity, alongside ecological sustainence, has been achieved simply by taking all decisions via participative democracy.

Is this the template for Kejriwal's forthcoming, "Swaraj Bill," where Delhi may be carved into a few thousand "mohullas" and the entire community in each mohulla entrusted with nearly the entire pool of state funds? If so, can the nature of land title and urban habitation (and interdependence among neighbouring mohullas) spawn a thousand Hiware Bazars in the heart of India's national capital? Can this be extended to all states which vote AAP to power?

At Hewari Bazar, co-dependence and stake have been achieved by the informal ban on selling land to "outsiders." Water can be pumped out privately for domestic use, but not for agriculture. Daily balance in the panchayat's bank account hangs on a notice board. Will a Delhi mohulla agree to replicate the equivalent discipline?

Flowing from Swaraj and unleashing Indian ingenuity and enterprise will have to be the narrative on anti-corruption and anti-cronyism. This is AAP's brand equity.

Then a plan for the well being of the weakest, with livelihood and dignity, not doles. Finally, a plan for food, education and healthcare - no longer treated as "welfare" but as vital inputs to the economy.

Now that Rajpath is cleared and the tanks will roll peacefully, Kejriwal should take a leaf from the chief guest, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, and profer the much-awaited #AAPnomics of job creation, a strategy on wealth distribution, and, a vision on efficiency. His genius will lie in these making sense to the poorest and the weakest - without forgetting global investors and our diaspora.

(The columnist is a Visiting Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi and CEO & Co-Founder, India Strategy Group, Hammurabi & Solomon Consulting)

Courtesy: The Pioneer, January 24, 2013

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Rohit Bansal

Rohit Bansal

Rohit is an alum of Harvard Business School and St Stephen’s College. He is a British Chevening scholar and has undertaken short professional programmes at ...

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